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Ardern’s antics foolish and irresponsible

5 September 2003 Media Statement

Ardern’s antics foolish and irresponsible

Acting Leader of the House Mark Burton today demanded the National leader Bill English force his MP, Shane Ardern, to apologise for his act of ‘reckless stupidity’ in driving a tractor without a roll bar up Parliament’s front steps yesterday.

“What Shane Ardern did was completely stupid, foolishly reckless, and if he was anyone else other than an MP he would have been hauled away by the police, arrested and be facing a number of criminal charges.

“Mr Ardern is treating this as a joke and believes his antics were safe. Such an attitude only reinforces his stupidity.

"ACC records show that in the past four years there have been 14 people killed in tractor accidents in New Zealand.

"And the latest data shows that in the first nine months of the June 2003 year there were a total of 48 tractor accidents in this country, a figure that should alarm Mr English and Mr Ardern given their background as farmers.

“ACC’s website warns that even on mild slopes, tractors can flip over backwards, and warns against sudden acceleration—which is precisely what Mr Ardern did yesterday.

“If that is the sort of example that the National Party believes it should be setting to rural people, then the National Party is a sadder beast than anyone ever thought.

“MPs are meant to set an example and uphold the law. The only example being set by Mr Ardern was one of gross irresponsibility. At the very moment he was playing games on the steps, I was hosting a group of primary school children in Parliament. I told them that the protest outside was a very important part of the democratic process. If I’d know what he was up to, I might have changed my view on that—what kind of example was this elected official setting for the young people of New Zealand?

“The man is a fool and Mr English should force him to apologise immediately. Failure to do so would mean the National Party condones stupid, dangerous, and unlawful behaviour.”

ENDS

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